Resolving a bioindicator diatom species complex using genomic approaches for freshwater biomonitoring
This thesis pioneers diatom molecular identification and quantification through genome-scale methods, with four key aims: (i) reviewing DNA/RNA sequencing methods in aquatic biomonitoring to highlight their strengths and limitations;
- O. Çiftçi
- 17 October 2023
- Thesis in Leiden Repository
(ii) unraveling the evolutionary history of Nitzschia palea and investigating species delimitation within the species complex; (iii) identifying silica genes in N. palea for insights into ecology and evolution; and (iv) assessing a genome-scale quantification method for diatom biomonitoring to improve accuracy and scalability in estimating abundances. The review (Chapter 2) emphasizes disparities between molecular and morphology-based approaches and introduces the challenges in accurately estimating species abundances. Chapter 3 explores N. palea's evolutionary history using transcriptome data and reveals reticulate evolutionary patterns resulting in a putative hybrid between populations with different morphological characteristics. Chapter 4 pinpoints silica genes in N. palea and reveals variations among different populations that may lead to differences in silica metabolism. Chapter 5 introduces a genome-scale quantification approach that provides a promising alternative for molecular diatom biomonitoring due to its improved taxonomic resolution and quantification accuracy. In summary, this thesis underscores that genome-scale methods' have a critical role in diatom identification and quantification, and in advancing our understanding of microalgal taxonomy, ecology, and evolution.